As you go through menopause, you might think that annual screenings, such as your annual gynecology appointment, are behind you. You might believe you can put your health on “auto-pilot.” But according to an article on the American Family Physician (AAFP) website, postmenopausal women still need to take care of their health. The following are ways you should be caring for your health after menopause.
Preventative care as you go through the years past menopause is important. Early detection of diseases and illnesses can make the difference between life and death. The AAFP recommends that women have the following health screenings:
Osteoporosis - As you age you are more susceptible to losing bone mass. One-half of women past menopause will experience an osteoporotic fracture sometime in their life. Women over the age of 65 should have regular bone mineral density screenings. Those younger than 65 should have screenings if there is an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Lipid Disorders and High Blood Pressure - Regular check ups for women over the age of 45 should have include screening for lipid disorders, which can lead to coronary heart disease, screening for diabetes and regular blood pressure monitoring. Early treatment of these diseases can decrease the risk of developing heart disease.
Breast Cancer - The risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older. Recommendations for breast cancer screening includes a mammography and clinical breast exam every one to two years from the age of 40 to 75. Those over the age of 75 with an extended life expectancy should continue these screenings on a regular basis.
Cervical Cancer - A Pap test to screen for cervical cancer should be continued until the age of 65, unless you have had a total hysterectomy for benign reasons. Those with negative results on Pap and HPV screenings only need to have the screenings done every three years.
Colorectal Cancer - Regular colorectal cancer screenings are recommended for anyone over the age of 50. This can include fecal occult blood testing on an annual basis, a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, a double contrast barium enema every five years or a colonoscopy every ten years.
Based on the results of your annual physical examination and screenings, your doctor might suggest some of the following preventative measures.
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements
- Daily aspirin therapy
- Other supplements
- Annual flu shots
In addition to specific supplements, there are lifestyle changes that can help improve your health, no matter what your age:
- Quit smoking
Because the expected life-span has increased over the years, women can spend more than one-third of their life postmenopausal. To have a long and healthy life, make sure to include an annual physical exam in your schedule and follow through with any screenings and laboratory tests your doctor recommends.
Published On: December 23, 2014